Southern Illinois military family’s valuables stolen from Paducah storage unit

Storage locker theft

PADUCAH, Ky. (KFVS) - Twenty-five years of memories are gone for one military family after a thief broke into their storage unit in Paducah, Kentucky.

Within the last two months, Aaron Windings, originally from southern Illinois, moved to Fort Bragg as a Second Lieutenant.

His wife, Ashley, and their their four daughters are also moved with him.

Fourteen days ago they put some of their belongings into a storage unit, but this last week he received a heartbreaking and distressing call.

“Major called me stating that a bunch of my personal items such as social security cards, birth certificates, photographs of my kids, personal belongings of my wife was scattered across a creek bed in cypress Illinois,” Windings said.

Windings did not believe the news at first.

”At first you think maybe it’s a prank call or somebody just kind of messing with you,” he said, but it was the truth. “One of our storage units got broken into and a lot of our personal items got taken out that we can’t replace.”

So they had to turn around and make the 11-hour drive back from Fort Bragg to Paducah, then to Cypress, Illinois where their belongings was scattered.

They drove down through the creeks and found a few more personal paper items.

Southern Illinois military family’s valuables stolen from Paducah storage unit
Southern Illinois military family’s valuables stolen from Paducah storage unit (Source: KFVS)

They even spotted a house that had a sign that read “I’m a theft in the night.”

Baby books, sonograms, high school year books, senior book, family photos, trinkets, wedding bands, jewelry, an old baby dress, teddy bear & blanket, two small blue bibles, drawings and other memorabilia were also taken.

In addition, flash drives with other family photos on them and birth certificates were taken as well.

“My wife had a dress that was handmade when she was a baby and each one of our daughters - Emma, Leah, Sophia, but Myla is not going to wear that dress in a photograph of what her mom wore as a baby,” Windings said.

McCracken County Sheriff’s office did make a report and they did recover some property.

Sergeant Benny Kauffman said theft at storage units happen often.

“Storage units are an easy target,” he said.

Thieves target storage units because they are not occupied.

“Someone found some of their property in a ditch in Illinois and that led us to Illinois where some property was recovered but we are obviously still searching for the rest of their property,” Kauffman said.

Sgt. Kauffman suggested ways to reduce storage unit theft:

  • Use a disc lock because it’s more secure than the standard lock
  • See if the storage has a surveillance system before you rent
  • Make sure your unit will monitored by management along with lock checks
  • Monitor your unit yourself
  • Keep a detailed list of what’s in your unit with serial numbers

“It’s irreplaceable somebody can hand make the dress of the blankets and stuff like that again but it’s still the fact that we are never going to get that stuff back,” said Windings.

The investigation is still ongoing. If you have any information about this case, call McCracken County Sheriff’s Office at (270) 444-4719.

The family does have a GoFundMe to replace the girls clothes.

You can click here to donate or send donations to Aaron Windings, at P.O. Box 25605, Fayetteville, NC 28314.

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